Prioritising mental health as part of a work, health and safety system can seem like a daunting task. It doesn’t have to be.
The key to building a high functioning and mentally healthy workplace is to ask the workforce what they want. The only way to know how to make minds healthier, is to ask those same minds what they need.
On World Mental Health Day 2022, SafetyWorks psychologist and Senior Safety Leadership Consultant Dr Sharon Burden, offers some thoughts on how to develop a greater awareness of what the foundations of your mental health strategy might look like.
Identify the reality of work. Understand the real nature of the work so you have a baseline to start from. Observe, record, measure and discuss what the experiences are for every role in the organisation. Do whatever it takes to get a true indication of what is happening and why.
Measure the real risk. Go past the engagement surveys and get people to consider and measure their mental health signals and triggers against their actual work tasks. What does an enjoyable day feel like? What do I feel and think when doing different tasks? What triggers my stress? How do everyday habits and routines differ between an enjoyable day and a frustrating or distressing day?
Go back to basics. Focus on how mental unwellness manifests itself. Learn what the early warning signs are for locations, roles, tasks, teams and individuals. Look for ways to plan work differently, and how to use physical and mental health strategies to help eliminate or reduce the triggers. Blend the strategies that work well into core tasks, processes and procedures, so it becomes a seamless approach.
Mental health can be a powerful barometer of your organisation’s overall health and safety maturity. Be aware and show you care, and you will build belonging and connection through learning how your collective minds work.
To know me, know my mind. How are you going to start the conversation?